BY: Rev Daniel Amum Odwel, South Sudan, MAY/23/2017, SSN;
First and foremost, the call for genuine inclusive dialogue is welcome by all, if it is initiated by a neutral patron who is not part of ongoing atrocities in South Sudan. Honestly, the religious leaders seem to support ‘national dialogue’ of Kiir and his inner circle groups blindly.
The public these days is too disappointed with contrary words uttered by the Bishop Isaac Dhieu who said “he denounced the voices that advocate war and glorify violence in the name of reforms.”
Those words were preached by the government against opposition, so when people heard those words in the month of Bishop Isaac, immediately they concluded that Bishop Isaac and his colleagues are agents of government in clerical robes.
Critically, Bishop Isaac and his colleagues were not authentic and genuine in their remarks. It is much easier to notice that they were supporting one side of the coin…that is the government.
Did they want to convince the public that violence is only caused by reform forces? In case the answer is yes, they must illustrate to the public that the massacre that took place in Wau town was committed by those for reforms?
Were the atrocities in the whole Equatoria regions committed by them? The exodus that’s taking place in Upper Nile at the moment, was it caused by reforms as you proclaim in your remarks?
Bishop Isaac and his colleagues, now you look odd in sight of the nation, for they see you as hardline supporters of Salva Kiir.
The Church must stand on its ground without wavering under worldly pressure, look at how John the Baptist was able to challenge the criminal leaders of his times by telling them that they are ‘a brood of vipers’ (Luke.3:7).
The true Church leaders should uphold the right things, and should never be conforming to the world but should be the transformers of the world into harmony and tranquility, peace and justice. Indeed, any church leaders who support a criminal entity, whether the government or opposition, are also criminals.
People thought that your position should have been to advise Salva Kiir, that he shouldn’t be the patron of the National Dialogue and also to plead with him that this dialogue can’t take place at this moment because the true owners of the dialogue, the communities in South, are on the run for their safety.
Look, Salva Kiir calls it inclusive but contrarily, he stresses that he doesn’t want Dr. Riak Machar to take part in this so-called national dialogue. To me it is not a national dialogue but party dialogue that has nothing to do with national issues.
Here, let me point out another loose, vague and compromised statement, that the church leaders, who support the government cited: “The country’s political leaders (should) use the national dialogue as the opportunity to resolve the differences and call on religious leaders to persevere in their role as educators, by preaching love and brotherhood within families, communities and places of worship”.
Who are the religious leaders you are indicating here? Your provocative statement betrayed the church and implied that you are government agents and appointed propaganda, and not God’s appointed leaders.
Ironically, any agent of the government or IO in clerical robes can’t play the role of educators or proclaim the gospel of love in the communities because they will only uphold the message of their party.
When they stand before the congregation, people will recall tragedies committed by their party on the communities, and people instantly become skeptical and suspicious.
Indeed, could such agent of government or IO in clerical rob reconcile such communities? I real doubt it; will the agents of the government be ready to admit offences and holocaust committed by their party against targeted communities?
The fact is, will church leaders who are supporters of the government, have courage enough to tell the members of their party to leave grabbing of land, the invaders to leave for their original land peacefully, and the raiders to give back livestock to true owners and the kidnappers of kids to give children back to the real parents?
Moreover, will the church leaders who support the government be able to encourage their party to come up openly to apologize nationwide and ask for forgiveness?
In case the church leaders, who are part of the system, failed to ensure what are mentioned above, then they shouldn’t speak about national dialogue or reconciliation. For it is hard for targeted communities in South Sudan to believe what had been initiated by killers.
In relate to extermination that was committed by warring parties in Bor, Bentiu and Malakal, Waw and Equatorial regions, what was the position of so-called Church leaders, the agents of doom in that regard?
Are the agents of the government in clerical robes ready to come out publicly to admit their deadly mistakes and accept their responsibilities? If not, it will be difficult to accomplish national dialogue.
The reconciliation at this moment is quite difficult to be attained because atrocities are fresh, vivid and obnoxious in the minds of people, for they are still mourning for loved or missing ones in the family.
In South Sudan, it is too hard to easily achieve the reconciliation in traditional societies where the idea of forgiveness is obscure and revenge is the only thing they know.
We know the ministry of reconciliation is God’s ministry that He entrusted to His appointed ministers, in order to maintain peace, harmony and tranquility among his creatures. For sure it can’t be accomplished by agents of government within the church.
Christ has given himself to die on the Cross as ransom to reconcile the world to God the Father. The question that poses itself is, will Kiir and Riak be ready to step down from their positions as ransom for reconciliation?
Reconciliation is God’s motto, this is why Christ reconciled us to God and gave the ministry of reconciliation to God’s agent that is the church, but not to church leaders who support criminal institutions that killed their own people.
Indeed, the church leaders, who are agents of government or IO couldn’t be peacemakers, peace builders or reconciliators because they are part of evil-doers.
Tell me, can a pastor that supports warring parties preach about reconciliation in communities murdered by their party members and be welcomed? The answer is big no.
Jesus Christ rendered his life for the sake of humanity, but tribal church leaders in South Sudan are part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. In most cases they politicized everything to pass as tribal agendas.
To champion the reconciliation in South Sudan, the church leaders should stop being partial in their approaches to public issues.
I strongly oppose that the government of Salva Kiir in the South Sudan can’t and will not champion national dialogue or reconciliation because he is a part of holocaust. Indeed, the question of national dialogue or reconciliation must be suspended because the government and its agents within the church are not qualified to shoulder that task.
Imagine there is good slogan used in South Sudan…”One nation and one people”, but the speeches and languages uttered by those who initiated the slogan are deadly poison and will not make South Sudan to be one nation and one people.
In case the government of Salva Kiir and its agents within the church are serious to achieve the national dialogue and reconciliation, than the following giant diseases must be dealt with first:
1- Laws must be put in place to avoid segregation, nepotism, favoritism, superiority and inferiority complexes among one people;
2- People must avoid undermining the rights of minority communities and discrimination of others at the expense of not being members of a particular party, and;
3- Provision of opportunity to every individual on equal basis using educational qualifications and skill experiences.
The war in South Sudan is continuously claiming many innocent lives because the church leaders lost the right path and started to worship the government and IO and forgetting why they were called.
Let me refer you to what God said to Jeremiah: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jer.17:5, 7). END